Types of Wills under Korean Law
The Korean Civil Act (민법) outlines 5 types of wills:
I. Will by Holograph Document
– Entire document must be handwritten by the testator him/herself.
– Must contain the year/month/date. All three!
– Must contain testator’s name/address.
– Must contain testator’s seal or thumbprint. On (any) corrections too!
– The advantage: No witnesses necessary!
II. Will by Voice Recording
– Testator must state his/her name + the year/month/date.
– Witness must identify him/herself and corroborate the will.
– Interestingly, the law is silent on how many witnesses are needed.
III. Will by Notarial Document
– 2 witnesses and a notary must be present.
– Testator dictates his/her will –> notary writes it down + recites.
– Testator and the 2 witnesses then verify via signature or name+seal.
– The advantage: No probate process necessary!
IV. Will by Secret Document
– The document must be tightly sealed (using a seal).
– It must then be presented to at least 2 witnesses (both/all present).
– The outside of the doc must reveal it’s a will + the year/month/date.
– Also, each of the testator and witnesses’ signatures or names+seals.
– Get a confirmation date from a notary or court clerk within 5 days!
V. Will by Instrument of Dictation
– Only possible when testator is unable to use the 4 preceding methods.
– Testator dictates his/her will to at least 2 witnesses present.
– One of them writes it down and then recites.
– Testator and witnesses all verify via signature or name+seal.
– Must be submitted to a probate court within 7 days!
To learn more about wills, please read Articles 1060-1111 of the Civil Act.
DID YOU KNOW? Korean law does not allow you to just will away all your money/assets to people of your liking. This is because the law specifically guarantees all heirs a (bare) minimum share. This is called “유류분.” To learn more, please read Articles 1112-1118 of said Act.
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